“All wars, whether just or unjust, disastrous or victorious are waged against children.”
A certain kind of truth rings in this statement made by Eglantyne Jebb, the woman who, in her own right, ‘saved the children’ during the aftermath of World War I.
The nature of warfare has changed dramatically with the turn of the twentieth century. One could cite several reasons for it. Other aspects of the effects of armed conflicts can be looked upon in some detail, without being bound by treaties.
The inimical effect of war on non-combatants, especially children, is one of the most disturbing side-effects of conflict. As can be seen from the Civility-Casualty ratios, which are touching im-pending levels, innocents are increasingly being targeted. With this being said, the international community does recognise the importance of protection and security of children in situations of armed conflicts; which has been done through ratification of legal treaties, through speeches con-demning the issue. Though, there have been commendable advancements at the global level; taking into account the gloomy present, something more needs to be done.
Syrian child rights violation, kidnapping of Nigerian school girls, brutal attacks on students, teach-ers and schools in conflict zones, dehumanisation of minors during both the World Wars are a few instances of the abuse of children and their rights, which have left the world reeling with shock. In the middle of numerous emergencies and increasing threats, what one finds even more appalling is the increasing number of child soldiers, ‘defined’ as any children under the age of 18 who are re-cruited by a state or non-state armed group and are used as fighters, cooks, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes.
Every armed conflict in the past 15 years has involved the use of child soldiers, of which many have been under 10. Stating this fact was elementary, delving into it, however, proves to be vile. Unfath-omable, unimaginable, atrocious, monstrous; these words do not begin to describe the circum-stances and the subsequent effects on these children.
“In time of war, the law is silent,” Cicero famously declared. Our history and contemporary have certainly proved him right. The question so remains—will the future will follow suit?
Or is there a glimmer of hope for our children?
The answer seems uncertain at this juncture.